The story of two identical twins animating Paris-Roubaix: ‘We will remember this special day for the rest of our lives’

Which one’s Mick Tim and which one’s Tim Mick? Visma-Lease a Bike’s highest finishers at Paris-Roubaix were two twin brothers

“No, I’m Mick, ey,” Mick van Dijke corrects me. “He’s Tim,” he adds, pointing to his twin brother. “There you go – 50% chance of being right!” I apologise for confusing their names.  “I wouldn’t say you’re an idiot,” Mick says, reassuring me. “We are now 24, and for more than 24 years we have had this. I also answer to Tim as well. Tim is basically my second name. We’ve heard it so much that if someone says Tim’s name, I will also look. I’m Mick Tim, and he’s Tim Mick.” Tim nods in agreement. “Yeah, same, it’s just easier that way.”

It’s 11am in Compiègne and the men’s Paris-Roubaix is less than half-an-hour away from starting. Sitting on the top tubes of their yellow Cervélo bikes are two twin brothers riding for Visma-Lease a Bike, Mick and Tim van Dijke. It warrants repetition: two identical twin brothers, with the same height, facial structure and body composition – the only way of differentiating them, I figure out after a short while, is that Mick has fuller, curlier hair – are about to ride the biggest one-day race of all as teammates. 

“It’s crazy actually, it’s just a dream,” Mick says. Two years ago, as a neo-pro, he rode the 2022 edition of Roubaix, and now he’s back, only this time alongside Tim. “It’s not that easy: first you have to become pro, then you have to get in the selection, then stay fit throughout the whole Classics, and now it’s happening. I am really looking forward to it.”

Both riders progressed through Visma’s development team and have become established domestiques for the team widely regarded as the strongest in the sport. But none of the experiences that have come before compare to this. “We’ve dreamt about this race and also Flanders our whole life, and now we start together in a team like this,” Tim says. “Yeah, it’s pretty beautiful, huh. It’s a dream that’s coming true for us and we’re going to enjoy it.”

WIth Wout van Aert and Matteo Jorgensen sidelined through injury, and former winner Dylan van Baarle pulling out an hour before the race’s start due to an illness, the role that the Van Dijkes could be about to play is different to what would have otherwise been proposed. “We’ve had some bad luck as a team this spring, but it’s created opportunities for guys like us two, so we will try to make the best of it,” Tim says. “We’re at the same level I think, and this race suits my characteristics. I hope to be there for the right moments. I believe in myself that I can be there in the final. We’ll see.”

It turns out to be a prophetic statement. Three hours into the race, as the peloton splits up, both Van Dijkes are in the leading group. Through the Forest of Arenberg, a select group of four breaks clear - and Mick is there, alongside Mathieu van der Poel, Jasper Philipsen and Mads Pedersen. “The Arenberg was the trickiest part, but I was at the front,” Mick says a few hours later. “Tim and I communicated really well and we said that it was important to be at the front of the important sectors.” The quartet don’t stay out front for long, but the Van Dijkes remain in the leading group. Then Mick punctures and crashes, his left leg sporting bloody road rash. “I had some bad luck,” he reflects. 

Tim’s afternoon, however, is just getting started. Though Van der Poel eventually launches an unassailable attack to win the race by three minutes, Tim is part of the fourth group on the road, and rides to eighth in the velodrome* – a result very few predicted at the beginning of the day. 

“My brother whispered to me last night, ‘Tim, I think you could get a top-10 tomorrow’. I said, ‘no, no, that’s too much’ but I did it. It’s been such a special day. One I will never forget: my first Roubaix with my twin brother and then my first top-10 in a monument. To then see my twin brother coming into the velodrome, woah, that was an emotional moment for me.”

Five metres along the velodrome’s concrete floor, Mick, who rolls home in 19th, struggles to find the words. “For Tim to finish it off in eighth place, I am so happy. This was a special day that we will remember for the rest of our lives.”

*Tim van Dijke was later relegated to 16th position for riding off the velodrome’s line.

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